Tirokafteri – Spicy Feta Cheese Dip
Tirokafteri, a very popular mezé, is a spicy cheese spread/dip with a kick. Basically, its mashed Feta cheese mixed with olive oil and hot peppers (fresh, canned or roasted). Its texture and taste may vary from one region to another and will depend on the mixture of ingredients used. Apart from Feta cheese, hot peppers and olive oil, other commonly used ingredients for this dip include are a ricotta type fresh cheese called Anthotiro, lemon juice, garlic, yogurt and oregano.
3 – 4 tblsp olive oil
3 Serrano or Jalapeno peppers*
½ kg Greek Feta cheese
½ cup strained yoghurt
Wash and dry peppers. In a small pan fry the whole peppers in hot olive oil. Reduce heat to low and cover with lid. Cook for a few minutes and then flip the peppers over and continue cooking for another few minutes or until peppers have blackened on both sides.
Remove peppers from pan and when cool enough to handle, peel off and discard blackened skin. Then, remove the seeds from some or all of the peppers to control the spiciness of the dip.
Place peppers into a food processor or mini blender and pulse until pureed. Add crumbled Feta cheese and yoghurt and pulse to mash. Continue processing until you have a smooth and creamy mixture. If needed, add a little olive oil and mix.
Place in bowl and cover with lid or plastic wrap. Store in fridge until ready to use.
Serve with crusty village type bread, chips or crudités.
Tirokafteri can also be served as a warm mezé. In this case, omit the yoghurt from the recipe and add a little olive oil to make a smooth mixture. Place mixture into a small, lightly oiled, oven proof dish and place into a hot oven for a few minutes. When warm, serve immediately with crusty bread!
*Canned jalapeno peppers can be used in this recipe and real time savers as they can be used directly from the can. In any case, when using jalapeno peppers, unless you have a very low tolerance to spicy food , you don’t need to remove the seeds and ribs.
©KaritasM – November 2022
Authentic guacamole is the ideal appetizer/dip for a weekend cookout or when you are entertaining; any time of the year. It’s always a big hit and easy to make as long as you have properly ripened avocados and tasty tomatoes . . . as well as onion, fresh cilantro, jalapeno peppers, lime juice, garlic and salt.
Below you will find my recipe that I’ve been making for years. However, when I’m expecting a big crowd and short on time I sometimes cheat by buying top quality guacamole (normally frozen) from my local delicatessen/supermarket. When thawed, I enhance it by adding freshly mashed avocados to the mixture (to taste) and season it, if needed, to make it taste more like “home-made” . . . at a lower cost too!
¼ cup finely diced white onion
2 tomatoes - ¾ cup finely diced (optional)
2 - 3 green chilies*- seeds removed and very finely chopped
1 garlic clove - crushed
1 - 3 tblsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
2 large avocados (800 g)
2 - 3 tblsp freshly squeezed lime juice
½ - 1 tsp salt
Place finely chopped onion in a strainer and rinse under cold water. Shake well to remove any excess water. Place in a bowl and add the tomatoes, chilies, garlic, coriander and mix. Set aside until ready to use.
Cut the avocados in half by running a sharp knife around both sides of the avocado pit, from the stem to the blossom end and back. Twist the halves in opposite directions and pull the halves apart. Either peel off the skin with a sharp knife or scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon.
Place in a medium size bowl and mash the avocados with a potato masher or with a large fork. Add lime juice and mix. Stir in the tomato/onion mixture and season with salt to taste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for a few minutes before serving.
Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and finely diced tomatoes or if you prefer red peppers. Serve with Nacho chips, sliced cucumbers or sliced radishes.
Serves 6 - 8
When I make Guacamole, I normally use commonly available chilies such as the Jalapeno and Rajiao from Sichuan . . . or red Tabasco chilies. If you are not so familiar with chilies, as a general rule, just remember that the smaller the chili the hotter it is! If you are not sure, try a tiny wee sliver before adding the chilies into the dish you are making. Also, if it’s a really hot chili, discard the seeds and ribs as these parts are the
When handling chilies, always wash your hands carefully afterwards and be careful not to touch your eyes or skin as it may burn or irritate the skin!!! Actually, I always recommend wearing plastic gloves (one timers are the best).
If you do not like coriander, you can omit it . . . or if you like, use another fresh herb of choice.
Personally, I prefer to grate the tomatoes, straining them and then just adding the pulp to the dip as often the tomatoes are a bit chunky and tough with the skin, even though finely chopped. Doing this will give you a smoother Guacamole dip . . . but as always, I'm aware of our personal preferences so it's up to you to decide what you like to do! By the way, if you like use the tomato juice or liquid in other cooking or do as I do, place in small ice-cube box and freeze . . . for either smoothies, salad dressings or sauces.
Sometimes, especially in winter when good tomatoes are hard to get, you can make your Guacamole without them. If you like, you can also try adding finely diced red Florina peppers to your guacamole or if they are not available, red bell peppers (from jar) but again, very finely chopped!
If limes are not available in your area, use fresh lemon juice.
© KaritasM – November 2022
Healthy, Yummy & Easy2Make Hummus!
Hummus, is a Middle Eastern dip is made with cooked, mashed chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that are blended with tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. The first recipe given to me by a Lebanese friend many years ago was 250 g cooked chickpeas, ¼ cup tahini, ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 cloves of garlic that you blended together and then added salt and pepper to taste.
I always felt this recipe was a bit heavy on the tahini and garlic so I’ve made it a bit lighter by cutting down on these two ingredients. Also, to make a really smooth dip, I always start by blending the tahini with the fresh lemon juice and then proceed by adding the rest of the ingredients that also include a little water and olive oil.
Traditionally, the dip is served on a plate and garnished with paprika, chickpeas and parsley. This is still a good idea but I often just serve it drizzled with a wee bit of olive oil and sprinkled with Bukovo (ground or crushed red pepper flakes) or simply, as seen in photo, in a jar accompanied by other dips, Mediterranean Bread Sticks, pita bread/chips or tortilla chips and crudités . . . or whatever you like!
250 g cooked chickpeas or from can (1 x 400g can)
¼ cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice (1 large juicy lemon)
2 – 3 tblsp tahini, to taste
1 small clove garlic (minced), or to taste
¼ cup (60ml) water
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Optional: A dash of ground cumin
Optional garnish: Extra virgin olive oil, Bukovo or ground paprika, chickpeas, lemon and fresh flat parsley (any of these or a mixture that you like).
Place chickpeas in colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Drain well.
Place fresh lemon juice, tahini with half the water into the large bowl of a food processor and blitz until you have a creamy consistency. Add the garlic and blitz again to mix. Now add the chickpeas and process until you have a smooth consistency. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure to incorporate all the ingredients. If the consistency is too thick, gradually pour in more water and ½ - 1tblsp olive oil. Blitz again for about 5 mins, or until the hummus is smooth and silky.
Season with a good pinch of sea salt and transfer to a serving plate. Swirl the top of the hummus with the back of a dessert spoon and drizzle over a little olive oil and Bukovo or paprika. If you like, you can also garnish plate with some cooked chickpeas and fresh leaf parsley.
Serve with crunchy crudités, Mediterranean bread sticks, pita chips or even any veggie chips you like.
©KaritasM - November 2022